By Albin Sandberg
Outreach has been around since the term SEO was first imprinted. Due to terrible outreach attempts from people in the industry over the years, the space has however been through a drastic change. A change that means that website owners today are more likely to dismiss your SEO outreach efforts. Let me show you how to turn the ship around and start mastering the craft.
When Did Everything Start to Go Wrong?
It all goes back to the early days of search engines. Or maybe I should say the early days of Google. A time where a few links here and there could make your site skyrocket amongst the search engine result pages.
This perception, that more links equals higher rankings, made the whole SEO industry go crazy. It actually went completely bananas, to be honest with you. After that I don’t think there was an agency that didn’t send out 1000 generic emails per month, begging site owners for links. It was a complete mess and the site owners immediately struck back…
Nowadays, I don’t think you could visit a niche site without being encountered with messages like this one:
“We welcome feedback, but please note that we are not currently accepting new contributors or unsolicited guest posts!”
How to Do SEO Outreach (The Proper Way)
So, how would you go about reaching out to site owners and/or journalists? By using the following tactics, of course.
Identify Your Prospects
The first step to successful outreach is to put together a list of prospects. In other words:
- Unclaimed mentions of your brand
- Business lists within your niche or industry
- Podcasts that you would like to appearance on
- Blogs that you would like to publish guest articles on
- News sites that you would like to publish guest- or debate articles on
- Blogs that you think would be interested in reviewing your product(s)
- Journalists that you would like to build a relationship with (think traditional PR)
To get a good overview of the prospects and the actions that you’ve taken, you could set up an Excel-file like this one:
Picture: Prospect List
But how do you go about finding these prospects, you’re probably wondering? To be honest, there’s a lot of tools and tactics you could use when prospecting. Below you can find a handful of them:
- Use tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs to conduct backlink analyses of your competitors. By doing this, you will most likely find a lot of niche blogs and magazines that you could reach out to as well.
- Use Google Alerts to get notified every time someone mentions your brand online.
- Conduct a simple Google search for: “[your industry] blog”, “blog about [your niche]” or “[your industry] magazine”.
- Explore #hashtags on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to find blogs, magazines, etc. within your niche.
Reach Out to Your Prospects
Once you’ve finalized your list of prospects, it’s finally time to start reaching out to them. Something that’s easier said than done. Or let me take that back. Its’s easy. Doing it the right way is however not.
Before you start scraping websites for @info e-mail addresses, as well as compiling generic outreach templates, there’s a few things you need to consider. First of all, you need to remind yourself that these are people who probably receives hundreds of emails per day. Emails from people who are asking the exact same question as you.
What do you think will happen with your generic message that’s sent to an @info-address? Absolutely nothing! It will end up in the trash together with the hundreds of other poor outreach attempts.
Instead you need to figure out what will make you stand out from the crowd. You need to change your approach. Personally, I like to approach my prospects like I approach my women. Soft. Gentle. With the goal of building a long-lasting relationship. Stuff like that takes time.
With that being said, I don’t think it’s a good idea to reach out to your prospects via e-mail. Oh, and don’t call them either. They all get too much emails and hate cold calls. Instead, you should make the initial contact with them in a less intrusive way.
Something that has worked great for me, is to interact directly with site owners and journalists on LinkedIn and Twitter. I recommend that you do the same!
Send them a friend request on LinkedIn or follow them on Twitter. Show some genuine interest in their work. Don’t fake it – stuff like that will shine through. Like, comment and ask questions about the stuff they’re sharing.
After you’ve built that genuine relationship with site owners and journalists, it’s much easier to reach out to them. Successfully. Simply craft a personal and unpretentious message like this one:
“Hi [name of the site owner or journalist],
My name is [your name]. Though you probably already knew that, haha. Anyways, I really like the work you’re doing with [name of the blog, magazine, etc.]. I especially like your new article on [topic and link to article].
As you perhaps know I’m a [your title] at [company] and I would love to contribute with a guest post on [name of the blog, magazine, etc.]. What do you think about this idea that just popped into my head [topic]?
Can’t wait to hear back from you!”
Also, don’t be afraid to follow up if you don’t get an answer. A lot of people are busy. Or they forget. However, don’t make the mistake of sending the exact same message again. Just ask if they saw your first message and where their head’s at.
In order to become a master at SEO outreach in 2018 and onwards, you must change your approach towards it. Spammy emails won’t cut it any more. In order to turn the ship around and start mastering the craft, you need to establish a genuine relationship directly with the site owners and journalists.